Daniel Ricciardo to Renault.  Master Stroke or Career Killer

Ricciardo, who has driven with Red Bull since 2014, admits it will not be easy to walk away from the team with whom he has recorded seven victories.

"It was probably one of the most difficult decisions to take in my career so far," he said.

"But I thought that it was time for me to take on a fresh and new challenge."

Ricciardo, sitting in fifth position on the drivers championship standings with two wins this year, had already been linked to Renault prior to signing with the French manufacturer.

"I realise that there is a lot ahead in order to allow Renault to reach their target of competing at the highest level but I have been impressed by their progression in only two years," Ricciardo said.

"We fully respect Daniel's decision to leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and we wish him all the best in his future," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.

"We would like to thank him for his dedication and the role he has played since joining the Team in 2014, the highlights of course being the seven wins and the 29 podiums he has achieved so far with us.

"We will now continue to evaluate the numerous options available to us before deciding on which driver partners Max Verstappen for the 2019 season."

The surprise announcement will ripple through the driver market, with other teams set to shake up their line-ups as a consequence.

Ricciardo had been out of contract at the end of the year and was assessing his options, but any hope of joining champion Mercedes disappeared when it retained titleholder Lewis Hamilton and Finland's Valtteri Bottas.

Glamour team Ferrari has shown no obvious interest either, with Sauber's Monegasque rookie Charles Leclerc tipped to replace Kimi Raikkonen if the 38-year-old 2007 world champion is not kept on.

Ricciardo, a fan favourite with his permanent smile and thrilling overtakes, had indicated before the August break that he was set to stay at third-placed Red Bull and was just 'fine-tuning' details.

Former champion Renault was always the best of the rest and had a vacancy, with Spaniard Carlos Sainz there on loan from Red Bull alongside Germany's Nico Hulkenberg.

Sainz could return to the Red Bull fold alongside his former Toro Rosso teammate Verstappen but has also been linked to McLaren, where he could form an all-Spanish line-up with Fernando Alonso.

McLaren has not won a race since 2012 and is going through a re-building phase.

 

Has Lawrence Stroll Purchased Force India F1?

Force India’s weak financial condition meant that rumours had started doing the rounds about a possible registration for ‘controlled bankruptcy.

And those rumours have actually come true, as according to AutoBild, Lawrence Stroll has bought Force India from its existing(rather previous) owners Vijay Mallya, Subrata Roy and Michiel Mol.

It is however not clear if Stroll has bought a majority stake in the team or has completely bought the team for himself.

But whatever it is, one thing is for sure, the billionaire’s son, Lance Stroll will now drive for Force India.

Lawrence had earlier invested his money in his son’ team, Williams, however, lack of performance from Williams and an opportunity to buy an entire team seemed a little too enticing for Lawrence.

With Stroll moving to Force India, it will be interesting to see how the driver market behaves in the next few weeks.

One of Ocon or Perez will have to move and reports suggest that Ocon has already found suitors at Renault.

The Stroll effect will lead to movement in all midfield F1 teams, with a lot of the action set to take place during the summer break.

A lot of the movement would depend on Alonso’s decision about staying in F1 or quitting for some other form of motorsport, or quitting car racing entirely.

For the ‘Force India’ brand, it is good that it found a prospective buyer after the current(previous) owners bailed out on it due to financial constraints.

It will be interesting to see what kind of management is put in place to run the team and if it can continue to fight for supremacy in that midfield group.

ARG SECURES TCR SERIES AUSTRALIA RIGHTS

CAMS has granted the commercial and promotional rights of the Touring Car Racing Series to newly-formed category promoters Australian Racing Group (ARG).

The Australian Racing Group is an Australian-owned company, which aims to develop and promote top quality racing categories at high-profile motor sport events. 

The new category management business is owned by a consortium of businessmen and is spearheaded by Matt Braid, the former Managing Director for Volvo Cars Australia and the Supercars Championship. 

“We are extremely pleased to be awarded the rights to launch and promote TCR in Australia,” Braid said. 

“TCR has proven itself to be an extremely popular, exciting and successful category in many countries around the world.

“We look forward to working with competitors, manufacturers and event promoters to successfully launch the TCR series in Australia.”

ARG also has the commercial and management rights to develop Super 5000, the category based on the 1970s-inspired Formula 5000 category.

While Super 5000 continues to finalise its technical regulations, ARG has the full intention to kick off the inaugural TCR Series Australia in 2019.

The TCR regulations were developed in 2014 as a cost-effective touring car racing alternative, providing an exciting race format and opportunity for upcoming drivers and racing teams.  

Former World Touring Car Championship manager Marcello Lotti, who formulated the series' regulations, was thrilled with the new deal.  

“We have been absolutely delighted, to sign a deal earlier this year with CAMS for launching a TCR series in Australia,” Lotti said. 

“CAMS is the driving force behind the success of Australian motor sport, and their involvement is a guarantee of a bright future for TCR Australia.

“It will be a landmark moment for TCR that lands on a fourth continent after Europe, Asia and the Americas, where TCR series have already been successfully established.”

“This also represents a great challenge, because Touring Car racing is hugely popular in Australia and the local motor sport fans are enthusiastic and competent.  

“We are confident that they will soon learn to love TCR just as has happened with their fellow fans across the rest of the world. We wish the Australian Racing Group success in launching and promoting TCR Australia.”

Eligible cars include all front-wheel drive C-Segment hatchbacks or sedans, powered by production–based turbocharged petrol or diesel engines with a capacity of up to 2-litres and boasting 420 Nm of torque (310 horsepower). 

There are currently four internationally-sanctioned TCR Series competing around the world, plus 12 national or regional series utilising the TCR regulations as their main rule book. 

CAMS CEO, Eugene Arocca believes that the appointment will have positive impact on Australian motor sport.

“We are thrilled to confirm Australian Racing Group as the category promoters for TCR in Australia and look forward to seeing them hit the ground running,” Arocca said.

“This is a very exciting development for motor sport in Australia and already the interest in TCR has been very promising, from both a competitor and manufacturer stand point 

“We look forward to seeing TCR start off strong and go from strength-to-strength as TCR makes its mark on Australian motor sport.”

Manufacturers with cars currently homologated to TCR Series rules include Audi, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Peugeot, Renault, Subaru and Volkswagen, among others. 

TCR Series rules stipulate that fully-fledged factory owned entries are prohibited, however, car manufacturers are strongly encouraged to support their cars, as entered by professional or private teams.

There is already one Audi RS 3 LMS TCR Series car in Australia. The car was shipped to Melbourne by Audi recently for evaluation. 

The category has produced some of the most breath-taking, close and exciting motor racing, thanks to its level playing field amongst a wide-range of car manufacturers from around the globe. 

 

Government Regulator Give Karting NSW Thumbs Up

The NSW Government, and more specifically the Department of the Office of Sport, independently surveyed the ‘Organisational Health’ of all Sporting Organisations within the State of NSW recently.

For this review, State Sporting Organisations (SSO) were ranked in ‘Tiers’ according to the amount of funding received from the NSW Office of Sport, with Tier 1 on lowest funding to Tier 3 on the highest funding. Karting NSW was in Tier 3 along with 37 other SSOs including organisations such as the NSW AFL and NSW Rugby League.

The results of that review were outstanding for the sport of karting:

  • • 95 x State Sporting Organisations (SSOs) took part in the survey – and Karting NSW was ranked 11th overall.
  • • Karting NSW ranked 9th in Tier 3.
  • • Karting NSW achieved an aggregate score of 90% - exceeding the Tier 3 average of 81%
  • • Karting NSW was ranked #1 in Tier 3 for (a) Strategy and Planning and (b) Risk Management and Accountability.

The survey indicated that the primary area that Karting NSW should be focusing on to further improve its operations as a sporting organisation, is how it delivers its services.

The Department also offered input into other opportunities to move Karting NSW towards best practice. These included that Karting NSW should consider:

  • • increasing female representation on the Karting NSW Board of Directors (although they have one, more would be advisable);
  • • upgrading the IT platforms or services used by the organisation to a platform or service that is adequately effective, modern and operative;
  • • provide programs and training to staff to boost inclusion of people with a disability.

The Department in summary categorised Karting NSW as having outstanding organisational health.

The Department Representative went on to give this feedback - "for such a small organisation, Karting NSW deserves to give itself a huge pat on the back".

“The Board of Karting NSW is pleased with this independent feedback provided by our Government regulator,” stated Chairperson Dave Filipetto. “We would like to acknowledge the hard work and effort of our Administration Staff and General Manager who keep the front of office functions running superbly. We also acknowledge that this result was not just achieved in the recent past. The current Board has looked to build upon the foundations laid by those who have gone before us and who have helped forge the rich history and reputation Karting NSW enjoys within the sporting world. We acknowledge our volunteers and officials who are also part of the fabric of Karting NSW.”

“However, there is always room to improve. The current skills based Board has focussed on improving organisational governance, both internally and externally, as well as critically looking at our finances and risk profiles. We have opened up two-way communication by giving our Members a real voice and collaborating on how we work together to take ourselves forward. At our SKC meetings, the Board has shared with you and sought feedback on our desired corporate values, the strategies needed to reinvigorate the Sport of Karting and more recently, our tactical priorities in regards Officials, Training, State Competition calendars and increasing Member participation.” Filipetto stated.

The Board will also look to work on the areas of improvement identified by the Department, He also stated.

The next big event on the calendar is this weekend 14th -15th July at Dubbo Kart Track where they will be hosting Round two of the NSW State Championships with 170 competitors in attendance.

 

Image: Pams Pix.

NEW CHIEF OPERATIONS MANAGER APPOINTED

The Board of Karting NSW is pleased to announce that Ross Allen has been successful in securing the role of Chief Operations Manager for Karting NSW.

The role is a newly created role dedicated to focusing on the operational issues of grass roots karting. A rigorous recruitment process sought applications from both internal and external candidates.

Ross was formally interviewed for the role against the criteria posted and he has satisfied, and indeed exceeds the recruitment needs. As a result, Ross will resign from his role as Director of Competition within the Board of Karting NSW to take up this new role. "Ross brings an absolute wealth of knowledge in motorsport, governance and administration generally" said Dave Filipetto, Chairman of KNSW.

Prior to joining the Board of KNSW in 2017, Ross was Chairman of Speedway Australia. "Ross will bring much needed stability and operational focus to the day to day matters of Karting NSW as well as supporting our front line administration.

This will now permit the Board to concentrate on strategic matters aimed at improving the value proposition for our member base." The role of the CEO remains vacant, and will do so until the Board determines that the operational issues around grass roots karting have been re-aligned to our Constitution and in our Members best interests.

We also wish to take this opportunity to thank Derek Ferry who has been acting in the capacity as caretaker General Manager of KNSW since the Board’s appointment late last year. It is never an easy role to align the old with the new, but Derek has done so with patience and integrity. His passion for the sport is unwavering.

Derek has been an Official since 1996. He was appointed to the Board in February 2010 as Director Member Services Central Zone, then moved to Director Member Services Southern Zone in May 2012. He was appointed as CEO in November 2014.

The Board extends its thanks to Derek and hopes to see him well rested and re-invigorated back in our karting community soon.

Please join the Board in thanking Derek for his commitment to Karting NSW for the past 22 years and welcoming Ross as he steps into the Chief Operations Manager position.

Sprint Car star Jason Johnson dies from injuries sustained at Beaver Dam Raceway

World of Outlaws star Jason Johnson died recently from injuries sustained in a crash at Beaver Dam Speedway in Wisconsin on the weekend.

Johnson was racing for the lead on the 18th lap of a 40-lap main event with Daryn Pittman. The two made contact, sending Johnson flipping into the outside retaining wall and through the billboards outside of the racetrack.

A lengthy extrication period followed before he was airlifted to Aurora Summit Hospital in Summit, Wisconsin.

Johnson is the second driver in four years to die from injuries suffered in a sprint car crash at the third-mile clay facility.

Scott Semmelmann, 47, was killed in an accident in practice at an Interstate Racing Association event in September 2014.

Johnson was a five-time Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series champion and was one of the most popular winners of the prestigious Knoxville Nationals.  He also competed in Australia for many years.

He made his Outlaws debut in 1998, winning his first race at Texas Motor Speedway in 2003, but didn’t run full time until 2015. He won 12 times in the series and twice this season.

Johnson would have celebrated his 42nd birthday on July 7. He is survived by wife Bobbi and son Jaxx.